Friday, October 30, 2009


The company where I work outsources its Information Technology (IT) services. Our experience with our old IT service provider has been so unsatisfactory that the company took the first chance it had to cancel its service agreement with that vendor. The new IT service provider will be taking over (following a very painful transition) on November 1.

Today I got an invitation to a Group Luncheon (an unrelated event) scheduled for November 11. But in my email acceptance of the invitation, I couldn't resist the temptation to add:
"Is there any significance to this being on Armistice Day (the day World War One ended)?"

And in reply I got this:
"Yes, but we may be starting an new one with [new IT service provider]."

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Our Fractured Fight Song

{To the Tune of the Notre Dame Fight Song}

Bassett is brave and Bassett is bold.
Bassett's a team that no team can hold.
When we fight we fight to win,
'cuz Bassett, you know, just won't give in.
When the last play is run through with ease,
Just for the fans of Bassett to please,
We will sing with all our might
The song of maroon and white ... fight, fight, fight! ...
{repeat ad nauseum}

As all my fellow near-northeast-side El Pasoans will recognize, these are the immortal lyrics to the fight song of Bassett Junior High, unless of course they've changed since 1965 (or more likely -- the official fight song is now sung only in Spanish). Bassett (that school next to the quarry -- McMillan's Quarry, to be precise) is a feeder school for Austin High and is itself fed by Crockett, Rusk and Travis. As a school, Bassett rocked! ... literally. When the quarry would set off a charge and boulders would shower down from the 400-foot cliff face (moving the limestone wall back a few more feet) our classroom windows would rattle and we'd actually feel the seismic vibration through our school desks.

No doubt you're asking yourself, "So what dynamite mascot would earth-shattering Bassett Junior High School choose?" Well, smack yourself on the forehead for missing the obvious ... we were the Bassett "Hounds". That's right, Bassett Hounds! You know -- those docile, lethargic sawed-off Blood Hounds, who (with ears so long and legs so short) are in constant danger of treading on themselves. So given such an "awesome" mascot, is there any wonder we smart-ass seventh-graders found cause to poke fun at Bassett's ferocity as a football powerhouse?

Thus it came to be, as the rest of Mrs Van Slyke's music class dutifully stood and gustily sang of the Bassett Hounds' invincibility, we (a handful of my buddies and I) joined in with a slightly more realistic song of this squat dog's prowess:

Bassett is bold and Bassett is brave.
Bassett's a team that no team can save.
When we fight we fight to win,
But somehow we end up giving in.
When the last play is fumbled with ease,
That's when the coach will fall to his knees.
Then we'll cheer and drink our beer
For the flee-bitten Bassett Hounds ... Bite, bite, bite! ...

Mrs Van Slyke was not amused.

Friday, October 9, 2009

"Wake Up! They're about to Nuke the Moon!"

Those were the exact words Joyce spoke this morning. I'd like to say I'm so wise that I immediately thought to myself: Now Bob, there's no need to correct Joyce by saying: "No, my love. The rocket that's going to hit the moon this morning doesn't have a nuclear warhead." But the truth is, as I slowly emerged from my deep slumber, the only thought that passed through my head was: Nuke the moon? Kewl!

Now that my morning fog has lifted, it occurs to me that slamming a rocket into a luckless crater near the moon's south pole would have been a major media event back when I was a grade-schooler in the early sixties. I remember well Alan Shepard's sub-orbital flight, which lasted a whopping fifteen minutes (more or less) -- compelling us third-graders to gather around a radio in the school auditorium and listen to engineers and test pilots shouting "Roger that!" at each other over a steady roar of static. Nah, we weren't the least bit bothered by the lack of any cool pictures being beamed back from outer space. After all, George Lucas was probably among this throng of kids gathered around America's school radios, so back in those pre-Star-Wars days our special-effects expectations were pretty low. As we hunkered around our new-fangled "transistors" (seeing only the tension on our teachers' faces), we had to use our imaginations to visualize the wild ride Colonel Shepard was taking. But our imaginations weren't limited to the trajectory of Freedom 7. With each break in the static, we were also picturing all the soon-to-be discovered alien monsters who lived on exotic card-board-walled worlds -- claymation monsters who were very likely lurking behind that huge papier mache boulder right over there. Space was truly magical back in 1961.

But this morning (after Joyce's announcement that the moon is under nuclear attack) I got up, did my bathroom ritual, wandered into the kitchen to refresh my mug (which Joyce had lovingly delivered earlier), then stood behind Joyce at her computer and watched the live-stream moon craters growing larger. The image froze. Then some tech guy at JPL heralded the impact with the words "Thermal signature!" I kissed my wife goodbye, stepped out into a steady downpour, got into my Jap car and turned on the radio, just in time to hear Vic Ratner patiently explaining that the moon is way too massive to be knocked out of its orbit by something the size of an SUV. Still the local radio host kept insisting: "But what if something had gone wrong? Isn't there some danger we could damage the moon?" I thought Vic Ratner was very nice not to answer: "O Lord, what was I thinking? You're right! ... If we keep this up, we could end up with a moon that's just covered with craters!"

But I also thought to myself: Gee, the future sure ain't what it used to be.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Dealing with that Age-old Problem ...


* Lifted from "Outside the Beltway"

Friday, October 2, 2009

Top Ten Reasons ...

Obama didn't bring the 2016 Olympics to Chicago:

Number 10... At International Olympic Committeee meetings ... dead people can't vote.

Number 9... Obama believes in American exceptionalism, just as the IOC believes in Brazilian exceptionalism.

Number 8... Who cares if Obama couldn't talk the IOC into holding the Olympics in Chicago, as long as he can talk Iran out of its nukes.

Number 7... Given the partisanship that's blocking passage of comprehensive health care, no president would have been able to accomplish it.

Number 6... Just as Obama has said all along, "Chicago is not the only place that can host the Olympics."

Number 5... This isn't about the number of Olympics "lost", it's about the number of Olympics "saved" or "created".

Number 4... With Israel still building settlements, no wonder there's no progress with the IOC.

Number 3... Clearly there aren't enough wise Latina judges on the IOC.

Number 2... Just look at this mess George Bush left Obama to clean up.

And the number one reason Obama didn't bring the 2016 Olympics to Chicago ...